Imagine you are a life-long upper east side, Yorkville resident born in 1949 and you’ve spent 39 years in Mary Manning Walsh nursing home on York Avenue due to a life-altering brain injury suffered when you were mugged in John Jay Park walking your dog in 1976. You were twenty-seven when you became trapped to the wheelchair and you never had a trip outside the 72nd Street institutional building. Your family’s gone. It’s only you and because you are shy and have difficulty talking, people are put off and it’s impossible to make one friend in the home.
But a young nun, a new nun notices you, she sees the intelligence in your eyes and begins a conversation with you through furiously written penciled notes passed back and forth. She’s funny, street smart and she cares about who you are and what you like.
Once the comfort of connection sets in, Sister Beatrice asks, “How about I wheel you down to the river at the edge of 72nd Street and we watch the boats?” You force together the best grin you can manage with your uncooperative face muscles. She sees it, and smiles back. That’s all you need. As she pushes your wheelchair through the York Avenue entrance for the first time in 39 years you look up at the strange images across the street and your first thought is, “Where’s Kodak?”
Here are photos of scenes you would see from your wheelchair if an understanding nun took you down to the East River and along York Avenue. Here’s a link to more photos.
If you like my work, check out my memoir, “I Hate the Dallas Cowboys – tales of a scrappy New York boyhood.” Available locally at Logos Book Store or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Mark your calendar, we’re doing a special Mother’s Day Eve “Stoops to Nuts” storytelling show on Saturday, May 9th from 7-10 pm, at Ryan’s Daughter, 350 East 85th Street.
FREE w/ COOL PRIZES
ps Kodak was across the street from the Home from 1929 to the late 70s. Sotheby bought the building and opened in 1980.